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Spartans find Marsalis, orchestra performance ‘phenomenal'

October 03, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

It's one thing to hear music on a compact disc and it's something entirely different to hear it performed live.

So the members of the Central Union High School Jazz Ensemble learned Saturday when the group attended the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performance in Escondido.

The LCJO, featuring trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, is on a 46-city tour performing selections from throughout the history of jazz with an emphasis on John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and original works.

"It's just so phenomenal to hear them play," said Central band director Renee Baker, who also attended.

"It inspires you, but it scares you," she said, adding to hear the music performed so well was an indication of how far she and her band still have to go before reaching the level at which the LCJO performs.


The concert also was important for the Spartan jazz ensemble because the group of 22 students participates in the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band competition program, sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center.

In the program, participating jazz bands learn the program's music selection and receive feedback from Lincoln Center judges on their performance of the selection. The center then picks 15 bands to travel to New York in the spring to compete for top prizes.

During intermission, the group asked if it could go backstage after the performance. Not only were the Central students welcomed backstage, they were the recipients of some impromptu mentoring by the experienced performers, Baker said.

Instead of acting like the famous celebrities many are, LCJO members held conversations with the Central musicians, gave advice and talked shop, Baker said.

"They're there to teach. They're there to promote jazz," Baker said.

Days later, the jazz ensemble is still "flying" from the inspirational trip, Baker said.

"It was a chance of a lifetime," Baker said.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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